[IPAC-List] Ricci update

Richard Arwood richard.arwood at comcast.net
Wed Dec 9 17:32:05 EST 2009

I will tackle this one, because I have "been there; done that."

First, the Fire Chief may NOT have the flexibility to select any set of
selection procedures for the future, but hopefully, he or she does. Also,
if I recall, wasn't there a stipulation in the labor agreement about testing
elements and weighting? In any case, the City of New Haven SHOULD (I would
hope) have the flexibility to choose the best assessment process that they
can design (or contract to design) that will give them a predictive
selection process, ideally WITHOUT adverse impact. Ideally, if I had the
power as Fire Chief to do it, I would convene a committee of all the
stakeholders to review the various design approaches and reach a common
consensus on an acceptable design. Likely, it would result in a
multi-faceted assessment center process that would evaluate the most
important and most frequently-performed job dimensions for each rank tested.
In the end, there would be "accepting sign-off" by all the stakeholders,
BEFORE the testing takes place. It would not necessarily eliminate future
lawsuits, but it sure would give some credence to the employer's legal

Second, attempting to remedy a supposed INEQUITY in racial percentages is
probably, if not definitely, illegal. Quotas were outlawed by the Supreme
Court (I think) 15 or so years ago. I am sure some of our members here can
cite the case(s). Also, I have not seen any indication that the Justice
Department has cited New Haven for any past discrimination, nor, to my
knowledge, is there a need for a remedy in the form of a consent decree.

Third, has anyone determined or stated the percentages for the "relevant
labor market" in New Haven? It is the "Relevant Labor Market" that should
be the target goal of racial percentages within the labor market; NOT the
population figures. Yet, almost exclusively, it is the population
percentages that politicians and media report when they are examining the
issues of racial distribution within the labor market. The fallacy of such
discussions is that I know of very few children and very few "old folks"
over the age of 60 who can or desire to be firefighters! It is the RELEVANT
LABOR MARKET that counts; not the population. With that said, I wonder what
the NHFD percentages are as compared to the percentages in the New Haven
labor market who meet the minimum qualifications to become NHFD

Finally, it has become very apparent to me that the City of New Haven has
some very extreme racial challenges, and I blame the city leadership for
allowing those issues to permeate the public working environment. It is
very sad and embarrassing. Thus, there should be concerted and continuous
efforts initiated to build trust, respect, and yes, love, between the
employees and citizens of New Haven. They need to get to the "root problem"
of racial divisiveness in New Haven.

That's my two cents.......................RBA

Richard Arwood, Fire Chief (retired -Memphis, TN)
Collierville, TN

Join with us at: http://www.iracing.com/


-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org]
On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 2:59 PM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] Ricci update

So, um, anyone here running to be head of HR for the New Haven Fire
Department? Now, don't all put your hands up at once.

I'm the sort who finds far too many movies end with a scenario that is far
more interesting than everything leading up to it in the preceding 89
minutes, and wish they'd show what happens next. So here's the million
dollar question, if you were overseeing staffing in the New Haven Fire
Dept., what would your assessment strategy for the future be?

I'm not saying the court's decision was wrong, or that the plaintiffs are
not deserving of promotion, but clearly if the representativeness within the
upper ranks was poor before, it is most definitely poorer now. So how does
one react to that? Do they revert to banding? Do they start looking
immediately for tests with stellar adverse impact specs? Do they treat this
as a mere glitch, anomaly, or bit of noise in the long-term trend? How do
they fix an imbalance that has just been made worse, and how exactly do they
earn the confidence of African-American firefighters within the force that
any sort of promotion might be in the stars for them in the future? After
all, such promotion exam outcomes depend on the internal labour market, and
if you can't assemble an internal talent pool to draw from that holds any
promise, you'll NEVER meet your diversity objectives.

Much to ponder, most of it likely not well-understood or considered by the
judges in the case. Thanks for the followup, Brian.

Mark Hammer

>>> "Bryan Baldwin" <Bryan.Baldwin at doj.ca.gov> 2009/12/09 3:21 pm >>>

For those that are curious about how the Ricci case ended up:

Judge orders Conn. firefighters promoted (
)November 25, 2009 12:10 AM

By John M. Guilfoil, Globe Correspondent
NEW HAVEN -- A US District Court judge ordered that 14 firefighters be
promoted and ruled that the city violated their civil rights when the
results of fire officer tests were thrown out in 2004 because too few black
firefighters passed. The judge ordered that 14 of the plaintiffs be promoted
The City of New Haven confirmed in a statement Tuesday night that the
promotions will be completed as soon as possible, WTNH-TV reported.
The case of Ricci v. DeStefano alleges reverse racism. The lawsuit claimed
that New Haven violated the rights of the plaintiffs when it threw out two
promotional exams because blacks scored poorly.

The city had claimed, in its own defense, that it threw out the tests out of
fear that discrimination lawsuits would arise from the black community.
Instead, the 19 white firefighters and one Latino who would have been in
line for promotions sued the city.
Firefighters Michael Blatchley, Greg Boivin, Michael Christoforo, Ryan
Divito, Steven Durand, Christopher Parker, Frank Ricci, and Mark Vendetto
will be promoted to lieutenant.
Advancing to the rank of captain are: Gary Carbone, William Gambardella,
Brian Jooss, Matthew Marcarelli, Timothy Scanlon and Benjamin Vargas.
A judge had thrown out the case in 2006. The US Court of Appeals dismissed
the claim in 2008. But in June, the US Supreme Court reversed the decision,
leading to Tuesday's ruling.
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil at globe.com

Bryan Baldwin
Staff Services Manager II
California Department of Justice
Division of Administrative Support
Personnel Programs
(916) 322-5446

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